In December 2020 West Berkshire Council announced the appointment of a multi-disciplinary team to undertake a major new study into the future uses of Newbury Town Centre. Led by HemingwayDesign, the team includes New Masterplanning, GL Hearn and Urban Movement.The study started with an online survey (details below) to engage with the local community and enable them to give their views on how Newbury town centre could be improved to make it a better place for residents, businesses and over stakeholders. Around 2,500 people have already completed the 10 minute survey and the Council is keen to hear more views of younger people, so that the town can be shaped to incorporate their needs – now and for the future.
Following the results of the survey, the study will be developed over nine months to outline a vision for Newbury’s future and a proposed masterplan of how the town centre can evolve to meet this aim. This study forms a key part of the Council's robust response to the pandemic and will have a unique role to play for businesses, residents and other stakeholders.
The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of strong community links, and the council has invited everyone with an interest in the town to have their say and be part of the conversation about its future. The study will take into account the significant changes in the retail and hospitality industries and the impact of Covid-19 in accelerating the review of alternative uses for town centres and public spaces.
Speaking about the upcoming and future work, Councillor Lynne Doherty, Leader of West Berkshire Council, said:
“West Berkshire Council and HemingwayDesign need to further understand and provide solutions for some of the most important issues that affect Newbury’s local communities. These factors include a stronger economy, improved public health, protection of the most vulnerable, equality of opportunity, better stewardship of the natural environment, and a stronger sense of community.
“I’m delighted that so many people have already taken the time to complete the online survey – providing us with valuable insight into the views of the local community.
“Newbury has a lot to offer already, with its mix of green spaces, independent shops and strong cultural heritage. The majority of respondents thought that Newbury has the potential to be an even better place to live work and learn. We are really keen to hear the views of younger people so we can ensure that future planning takes into consideration their needs – that’s why we have extended the deadline to complete the survey to 31 January 2021.”
The Newbury town centre masterplan survey will be open until 23:59 on 31 January. The team will then review the feedback and report back and outline next steps in this process.
The Newbury town centre survey can be found at www.newburytowncentremasterplan.co.uk/
With the New Year underway, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) is supporting this month’s Fire Kills smoke alarm purchasing campaign, urging households across the County to make sure they fit smoke alarms on every level of their home. Many people see January as an opportunity for a fresh start, making it the perfect time to ensure you are prioritising fire safety in 2021.
The latest fire statistics reveal that one smoke alarm may not be enough to provide you with the best chance of escaping a fire in the home. Despite the majority of homes (91%) having at least one working smoke alarm in their home, smoke alarms alerted householders to a fire in England in only 45% of cases.
The most common reason a smoke alarm failed to activate was because the fire was outside its range. For this reason, we are supporting the smoke alarm purchasing Fire Kills campaign, encouraging people in Berkshire to think about the smoke alarms in their home.
Ian Barks, Central Hub Prevention Manager, said: “The vast majority of us now have at least one smoke alarm in our homes, but early detection and warning is vital to reduce the devastation a fire in the home can cause. If you don’t have enough, or they’re not in the right place, you might not be alerted in time. That’s why it’s so important that you have enough smoke alarms, they are in the right place and they are working to have the best chance of alerting you and your loved ones to a fire.
“You should make sure you have at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home, preferably in hallways and landings. Placing smoke detectors near to sleeping areas and in rooms where there are electrical appliances could give you the extra warning you need. It’s also important to remember that smoke alarms don’t last forever. So whether they are battery operated or wired to the mains, it is important to check the batteries weekly to ensure that if the worst should happen, they can function correctly.”
To help keep you and your loved ones safe, follow these smoke alarm safety top tips:
The garden waste collection service will be suspended from Monday 18 to Friday 29 January 2021. Like many other local authorities across the country, we are facing a difficult January with significantly increased volumes of waste after the Christmas holiday period and a number of collection crews self-isolating. This has impacted parts of our waste collection services meaning we have made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend garden and food waste collections to prioritise rubbish and recycling.
The garden waste collection service will be suspended from Monday 18 to Friday 29 January 2021. We are asking residents whose garden waste is due for collection on or after 18 January 2021 to not put their green garden waste bin out until service can be resumed again from 1 February 2021. This change will also affect food waste collections because they are collected at the same time as garden waste.
Councillor Steve Ardagh-Walter, Executive Member for the Environment at West Berkshire Council, said:
"We have received tremendous support from West Berkshire residents over the past few weeks and I want to thank everyone for their understanding during this challenging time.
"We have not taken this decision lightly to put garden and food waste collections on hold and understand that some residents may be disappointed by this service disruption.
"Our aim is that all waste collection services will be able to continue as normal once the service is reinstated by the end of January. Our contractor's collection crews have continued to work hard throughout, keeping our waste services running and we would like to thank them for doing a great job."
At the close of play on Tuesday 12 January, about 5,300 recycling collections (equivalent to just under 8% of households) remained outstanding. The collection of other waste types including general refuse is being completed without any significant disruptions at this time.
If your rubbish (black bin) or recycling (boxes and bags) is not collected as expected, please continue to leave it out and we will collect it as soon as possible.
We are grateful to residents for their continued patience. We are asking residents to kindly avoid calling our Customer Services colleagues, unless necessary, because they are very busy helping various residents with other urgent queries at this time.
You can read more information on the garden waste service here. Our household waste recycling centres are still open for essential visits but you need to book an appointment.
Across the media there has been much publicity about plainly sub-standard food parcels sent to school children at home who would normally get free school meals.
During the national lockdown, our schools will continue to support children eligible for benefits-related free school meals who are at home during term time.
Cllr Dominic Boeck, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education at West Berkshire Council, said: “It is important that all children in all schools are given good wholesome food that is enough for their needs. I am determined that children who are entitled to free school meals are given food of the right quality while they are learning at home.
“Schools and their governors are responsible for school meals and they have the freedom to decide on the best approach for their pupils. If there are any problems we are ready to support them.
“Over Christmas we distributed 3,600 food vouchers to make sure children at home had enough. We have asked all our schools if they would like us to provide them with vouchers until the Department for Education relaunch their scheme.”
Schools will continue to receive their expected funding for benefits-related free school meals throughout this lockdown period. The current funding for schools to cover the additional cost for pupils at home is:
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